So as of yesterday, it seems the biggest BitTorrent servers, SuperNova.org and TorrentBits.com, have been shut down.
BitTorrent is basically a peer-to-peer filesharing protocol, that allows a whole bunch of different computers to host the same files so that people can download them from multiple places at the same time – reducing the load on machines with popular files. The more popular a file, the easier it was to download, because BitTorrent required everyone who downloaded files to share them. BitTorrent was the way a lot of people got to see my last two documentaries, their favorite HBO programs from overseas, or feature films that weren’t running, anymore.
BitTorrent was so popular that by last month, according to Mark Pesce, it accounted for 35% of all Internet traffic.
BitTorrent worked a bit more like Hotline, the original p2p program, than Gnutella. This means that used ‘trackers’ – basically tables of contents listing available files and telling your computer where to find them. Now, the two biggest trackers have shut down. Why? No conclusive answers just yet. Most likely the MPAA, who was going after BitTorrent over the past few weeks, got some sort of injunction.
This will come back to the bite them. With BitTorrent and its identifiable trackers, they had the means to leverage the power of the biggest filesharing network in history – and save what was left of their industry. Now, it’s back to the hackers – who only need to find a way to share ‘trackers’ in a way that requires no single, centralized host. And the content will be free, forever.